Knitting & Stitching in Harrowgate 2022

A combination of Brexit and Covid conspired to take the annual Knitting and Stitching show out of RDS Ireland. So our group of four Irish knitters and stitchers set out for the November Harrowgate Show.

WEDNESDAY 16th November

Despite the Aer Lingus delay we reached Bradford and commuted firstly to Leeds, arriving before most of the shops opened. An English breakfast in a small coffee shop set us up for the long day ahead. The various Leeds Arcade which were the attraction, didn’t fail to impress us and retail therapy started early in the trip with purchases of socks (by me) and jewelry.

The bus journey to Harrowgate gave us a fine view of the rolling dales of Yorkshire – a surprise for me as I expected the harsh and isolated moors of the Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

We arrived in the spa town of Harrowgate in the afternoon and found our way to The Crown Hotel.  The hotel was a testament to the history of the town, with a history dating back over 300 years, its enviable location moments from many of Harrogate’s most popular sites and close to the convention centre where the trade exhibition  would take place. The hotel was set with a wide open vista of a selection of impressive Victorian and Georgian crescents. In our initial mooch around the town (we were reserving the serious shopping for Friday) showed  architecture, galleries, antique shops and tea rooms the most famous of which Betty’s Tea Rooms which still has the charm and the delicious pastries of the early 1900’s when it was founded.

Bettys: Famous Yorkshire tearoom reaches its centenary - BBC News

THURSDAY 17th November

My first workshop was scheduled for 10am so after a leisurely breakfast i strolled down to the Convention Centre. It was teeming rain but that mattered little as an indoor day was planned with the following workshops booked.

  1. Vintage Botanical Stitched Fabric Journal with Ami James.
  2. A Christmas Robin – Free motion Embroidery with Helen Moyes
  3. Giraffe Applique for a Cushion Cover with Delphine Brooks

There was of course some ‘compulsory’ shopping in the main hall between workshops and also viewing of the galleries – my favourite was that of the Embroidery Guild with their display of Embroidery across the decades and the Guinness Book of Records longest piece of embroidery.

The World's Longest Embroidery.

Work on this embroidery started in 2003 and in 2009 it measured more than 605 metres, a new Guinness World Record. The embroidery piece was hand worked by 7000 embroiderers from all over the world and contained a plethora of designs, colours and subject matters, including 3D insects, flowers, people’s names, etc. People were free to add to work during the show whatever motif they wanted.

FRIDAY 18th November

Today was dedicated to rummaging in the many Charity and Vintage Shops of Harrowgate from which a selection of jewelry, dressing gowns, dresses and kimonos were added to the craft stash of yesterday, all of us hopeful that we would be within the 10kg that Aer Lingus allowed for carry-on luggage. Right in the middle of the Montpelier Mews, we were delighted to find Jenny’s Tea Shop, a tiny little  for home-made soup and Quiche and sandwiches.

Photo

We all agreed that Harrowgate had still plenty to offer us if we returned for another visit.

A FELTMAKER’S MEETING

FI had a very interesting October Sunday Session in Killester yesterday. Fiona Leech talked us through her journey into felt. Probably known to many of you social media users, Fiona is the face of FeltAtHomeDesigns and also Membership Secretary and Workshop Organiser for Feltmakers.

                 

Fiona gave us an inspiring insight into her early career with lots of samples for us to touch and feel as well as notebooks where she developed ideas.
We viewed an early hand-knitted wall panel of a Henri Matisse lady – all done with scraps of wool and NO PATTERN.
Everyone fell in love with her Aardvark crochet family and will be searching for Toft amigurumi crochet patterns of the ‘many animal in the world’.
Her 100 Days project was picked up by an Australian Magazine, Artwear Publications that extolled her talents as a textile artist.
We were all very appreciative of Fiona’s generosity in her willingness to share how she achieved the clean cut circles that identify much of  her current art.
Thanks to Fiona and Dee who managed to have coffee and cake for our break although the Coffee Dock was closed.

OBERAMMERGAU 2022

THE PASSION PLAY

For many years, Oberammergau has been on my bucket list. I was fascinated by the many facts that I’d heard about the Passion Play held there every 10 years. Luckily the 2020 event was postponed because of Covid and I realised that for this once in a decade occasion, I could not procrastinate for too much longer.

Oberammergau is a small village located in Bavaria in Germany among the stunning Ammergau Alps. Nearly 400 years ago the history of the Passion Play began. The plague raged in many parts of Europe during 1633 and it did not spare the village of Oberammergau either. The villagers soughtvrefuge in prayernand vowed to perform the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ every tenth year. The first play took place in 1634, in the cemetery next to the parish church, supposedly on the graves of the plague victims. Seemingly there were no further deaths from the plague.

Later, in 1830, the performance space relocated to the northern edge of the village, where it still remains today but in a modern open-air theatre with amazing acoustics The villagers’ promise was kept until 2020, when the play had to be postponed for two years, this time due to another plague, the corona-pandemic.

To be considered as a performer in the Passion Play, you have to be born in the village, be married to a local for 10 or more years, or live there personally for 20 years. No exceptions to these rules are made.

Costumes are made by villagers and for accuracy and authenticity on stage, no wigs are allowed. A “Hair and Beard Decree” comes into play in March of the year of the performance so there are no trips to the barbers.

Over 2,000 locals take part every 10 years, but there are only around 124 speaking roles up for grabs. Some of the scenes include 64 vocalists and 55 instrumentalists sitting in the orchestra pit.

BUT FIRST BAVARIA

DAY 1 WEDNESDAY

After landing in Frankfurt, we travelled to Wurzburg. According to tradition, the first Bishop of Wurzburg found the remains of the Irish saint, Killian and built two churches on the spot c. 1060. These churches underwent renovation and changes over the years until the entire city of Wurzburg was destroyed on 16th March 1945. However in the years since the chey have both been restored.St Killian is held in very high esteem in this town with many of the eldest boys in a family being named after him. Wurzburg is a lovely town, particularly the Saints Bridge across the river Maine. With a small deposit on a glass, I had a ‘take away’ local wine sitting on the wall of the bridge.

We then continued to Nuremburg to stay in the lovely Novina Hotel. After a super dinner – what a selection of foods – and few scoops, I was more than ready for the bed.

DAY 2 THURSDAY

After breakfast, we went on a tour of the city of Nuremburg with Andreas, a German guide. The weather was dreadful making the cobbled streets very precarious. But we climbed to the top of the Imperial Castle and looked across the beautiful city which for centuries was regarded as the cradle of European culture, with grand residences, ancient walls and an old castle. Nuremburg was the city of Nazi rallies and the Nuremburg racial laws.

Andreas explained that the new Germany acknowledged Nuremburg’s part in the National Socialist barbarity and accepted the destruction of the city in 53 minutes on the 2nd January 1945, the death of 1800 people and the loss of 6 centuries of history as part of the consequences. Siting the Nuremburg trials in its Palace of Justice was just as much symbolic as practical: it was one of the few towns with a prison alongside a court.

Nuremburg is now restored to its former beauty. There a many tributes to Duhrer to be seen around the city – my favourite was the hare sculpture in the square where Duhrer lived and the Ship of Fools in the market square. The Nuremburg traditional gingerbread was delicious. Nuremburg is a city of fountains – the Schöner Brunnen (beautiful fountain) which was more a public well for water in the 14th-century was shaped like a Gothic spire in the main market square.

             

 

 

 

 

 

We departed Nuremburg for Altotting stopping off in Augsburg to see the famous painting of Our Lady, Untier of Knots in the church of St Peter. Pope Francis is said to have been particularly inspired by this wonderful painting and frequently prays to Our Lady to undo the knots of life.

The Hotel Plankl in Altotting was our destination. After dinner a few of us explored the town, found a lovely bar and shared (a few) bottles of wine.

DAY 3 FRIDAY

We spent the morning exploring Altotting. Since the 9th Century the Black Madonna has been one of the most famous pilgrimage destinations in Central Europe. Pope Benedict who was reared near here often stayed here – also in Hotel Plankl.

In the afternoon, we travelled out to Markt Marktl where Benedict was born. We all remarked at how big his house was, but the guide informed us that the building housed the Police Station (his father was a police officer), a customs post (Austria is only a few miles away) and accommodation for the police and custom officers as well as Benedict’s home.

 

DAY 4 SATURDAY

After an early breakfast, we set off for Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This German ski resort in Bavaria was formed when 2 towns united in 1935 for the Winter Olympics, often called the Nazi Olympics.

Our destination, the Riessersee Hotel was fabulous and being allocated a suite overlooking the lake was the icing on the cake. My balcony afforded a unique view down into the valley although there was little chance to enjoy it before being whisked off to Oberammergau. The shortening days of September moved the performance start time to 1.30.

Oberammergau was stunning. Most of the houses have colourful murals or Luftmalerei, the older ones illustrating martyrs, passion scenes and famous citizens and events. More recent illustrations are of nursery rhyme and fairytale characters. The Hansel and Gretl house is magnificent. The shops along the route to the theatre have wonderful displays of wooden ornaments and Christmas decorations, sometimes the woodworker is actually carving outside the door.

Wood carver

Men and women were separated into different queues, probably because the women generally have handbags and the search might cause delays. The banter between the spectators was lively as we shared stories of our journeys here.

 

Inside we were directed to really good seats; the view of the mountains behind the stage was awesome. The play revolved around the mystery of the Psssion of Jesus in both a dramatic as well as a meditative way. Between scenes, moments of the Old Testament were depicted as ‘living pictures’. The scale of the production with 2.000 actors and live animals, up to 400 on the stage at one time, was unbelievable. The score was haunting and the acoustics of the theatre allowed it to reverberate right through the audience.

The play was in German, meaning that the dialogue didn’t distract from the action. A copy of the script in English was made available but I decided it would be better read after the play. The play was approximately five and half hours long, performed in two acts with dinner served in the village during the intermission. While not a culinary delight, there was a selection of Bavarian and international food. We had a little time for shopping before returning to the theatre.

DAY 5 SUNDAY

A quick trip back to Oberammergau this morning for some shopping and outdoor Mass (in the pelting rain) before onward journey to Munich. The city centre roads were all blocked off in Munch for a music festival. So we got a festival and a quick run around Munich and then off to airport.

The holiday/pilgrimage met all expectations and I certainly wouldn’t rule out a 2030 trip to Oberammergau. It wasn’t oppressively “holy” but it gave opportunity for contemplation and questioning.

 

Return to the Gaeltacht

D’fhreasatil mé ar Gaeltacht Chorca Dhuibhne i 1972 ón Coláiste Oiliúna. Is múinteoir scartha mé anois agus shochraigh me ar ath-chuairt ar an nGaeltacht an Samhradh seo chun an teanga a chleachtadh. Fuair me lóistín le Gertie and Seamus ina dteach “An Guirín” I mBaile an Lochaigh. Bhi teach álainn acu – an chompórdach le radharcanna áille ó gach fuinneog agus ba bhreá an fháilte a chuir bean an tí romham.  Chuaigh mé ar turas bus timpeall Shlí Cheann Sléibhe.

Chuimhin me ar na heachtraí go léir a bhí agam agus na háiteanna eagsúla ar a thug mé cuairt mar scoláire na blianta ó shin – Coumeenole, Cé Dhún Chaoin, Na Blascaoid, Trá Dhún an Óir, Muiríoch,

Bhain me an-taitneamh as na laethannnta mar scoláire/taistealaí arís.

The family 50+ years on

Taken in Kilakee early 1970’s – Canadians home on a visit and grandmother organised a family photo. What a crew – I’m one of 35 first cousins on Mam’s side of the family, and one of 32 first cousins on Dad’s side – some family!

A Lambert committee was established to organise a family reunion for 2020 – little did we know that the world would be pressed into isolation by Covid and that plans would not be implemented for two years. Here we are after Mass in Crossabeg Church on Friday 8th July 2022.

for And here’s the clan again, posing on the mound at Wexford Harbour before  Meal and sing-song in Riverbank Hotel on Saturday 9th July 2020.

The Platinum Weekend

In my previous post I declared that “Nobody does pomp like the British!”
And the Platinum Jubilee weekend was certainly no exception. Even a non-royalist would have to be impressed with the splendour and magic.

On 6th February 2022 Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth became the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms and the Commonwealth. I think she won many hearts in Ireland during her visit in 2011, with her words (a few as Gaeilge), her interactions (remember the English Market in Cork) and her respectful silences (the Garden of Remembrance).

Now she has reached her platinum jubilee. A range of events and initiatives were planned with the culmination being this four day UK June bank holiday.

The four days of celebrations included public events and community activities, as well as national moments of reflection on The Queen’s 70 years of service.

Thursday 2nd June

Trooping the Colour is an annual event that marks the official birthday of the British Sovereign. It has been happening for over 260 years but this year will be spectacular. The Queen’s Birthday Parade this year saw the colour trooped by the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, and more than 1200 officers and soldiers from the Household Division putting on a display of military pageantry on Horse Guards Parade, together with hundreds of Army musicians and around 240 horses. During the birthday parade a Royal gun salute was fired.

Once the parade ended and the Royal Procession returned to Buckingham Palace for the Royal Family’s balcony appearance.
There was an impressive Flypast to coincide with the Royal Family’s balcony appearance and the younger royals stole the show with their excited reactions.

Platinum Jubilee Beacons: The United Kingdom’s long tradition of celebrating Royal Jubilees, Weddings and Coronations with the lighting of beacons was of course bigger and bolder for this Platinum Jubilee.
A beacon chain, once used as a tool for communication, has now become a symbol of unity across towns, borders, countries and continents and is often the central point of focus for any outdoor gathering or celebration. In 1897, beacons were lit to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. In 1977, 2002 and 2012, beacons commemorated the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees of The Queen, and in 2016 Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. Over 1,500 beacons were lit throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories.

The Principal beacon, involving The Tree of Trees (a 21m high ‘tree’ constructed of 350 smaller trees), was lit by the Queen in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Friday 3rd June

The entire royal family attended a Service of Thanksgiving for The Queen’s reign in St Paul’s Cathedral. Unfortunately, the Queen herself was unable to attend. Harry and Meghan made their first public appearance since they absconded to USA, to quite a varied response. Great Paul, the largest church bell in the country, was rung for the Service. It was made in 1882, but fell silent in the 1970s due to a broken mechanism. It was restored in 2021 and has been rung on 8 occasions since.

Saturday 4th June

The Derby at Epsom Downs: This was probably one of her Her Majesty’s favourite events and usually she would have a horse running. Not this year. Again this was another event she could not attend.

The Platinum Party at the Palace in the evening saw famous faces from the world of entertainment brought together to perform for a night of musical tributes to celebrate the Jubilee. An array of Royals, young and old attended.

A special video tribute of the Queen and Paddington Bear thrilled the nation, even the world.

Sunday 5th June

The Big Jubilee Lunch: Over 60k people registered to host lunches, with events ranging from world record attempts for the longest street party to back garden BBQ’s and everything in between. Over ten million people across the UK joined the celebrations.

The Platinum Jubilee Pageant: The Gold State Carriage, guided by The Sovereign’s Escort, led the Platinum Jubilee Pageant. The pageant embraced the latest in digital technology to evoke the excitement and majesty of her journey to be crowned 70 years ago.
The Pageant brought to life iconic moments from The Queen’s reign as well as showcasing the changing society over the past 70 years.
National treasures and iconic figures from music, film, sport and the arts sent their good wishes to the Queen.

No I’m not a royalist, but I love the pageantry and grandeur and drama attached to royalty!!!!

 

Poet Laureate celebrates the occasion in poetry

Nobody does pomp like the British! Be it a royal wedding, a state funeral or an anniversary they know just how to roll out the celebrations.
They even have a Poet Laureate who may or may not commemorate the occasion poetically!

William Wordsworth became Laureate in later life and exercised the poet laureate’s prerogative and wrote not a single line of official verse.

Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion’s poems, one a rap and the other a sonnet to celebrate Prince William’s 21st birthday was called On The Record. The rap was the A side, the sonnet the B side reflecting vinyl LP and 45s records.
From the A side:
Better stand back
Here’s an age attack,
But the second in line
Is dealing with it fine.
From the B side:
That’s what our ‘happy birthday’ means today:
A wish that you’ll be free to claim your life
While destiny connects with who you are –
A Prince and yet familiar common clay;
Your father’s heir but true to your own faith;
A mother’s son and silvered by her star.
******************************
John Betjeman was Laureate when Princess Anne got married and his poem was like a hymn of praise:

“Hundreds of birds in the air/ and millions of leaves on the pavement”.
******************************
It was always thought to be a good idea to have the poet Laureate on your side or quite uncomplimentary or nondescript verse could be written. In 1901 Alfred Austin reported
“Across the wires the electric message came:
He is no better, he is much the same”
when the Prince of Wales, future Edward VII fell ill in 1901.
*********************************
Simon Armitage, the current Poet Laureate, claims to address current affairs in his role. His tribute to the Queen on her platinum jubilee is called Queenhood.

Four Days in Iceland

This trip has been on the bucket list since 2010 when the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull deferred not only my plans but the travel plans of millions of Europeans.

So it was great to set off at last for Reykjavik. Current crisis of staffing in Dublin airport and the ensuing queues at Departure however almost scuppered the plan again!!!!!!

The famous Blue Lagoon was our first port of call. The bright blue milky waters appear a bit surreal set in a wasteland of lava. But the magic of lazing for 2 hours in the steaming waters, treating ourselves to a silica facial mask and followed by  Icelandic beer would have to be experienced. We emerged feeling (if not looking) 10 years younger.

Feeling good after an hour in Blue Lagoon

Day 2 started with a bus tour of Reykjavic. Lena our guide was a softspoken lady who gave us “just the right amount” of information. Reykjavic is not a big city and initially looks so modern (like our financial centre). Many of the older buildings are hidden between the large glass structures of today. The Perlan, on a hill just outside the city centre provided a panoramic view of the city and also showed us the importance of outdoor activitiy is to the residents. There are walking and cycling tracks all round the hill.

From there we hit down to the bay to see another important aspect of life here- the sea. The Solfár or Sun Voyager is a large steel sculpture which although somewhat similar to a Viking ship has no connection at all. Jón Gunner Árnason vision for this work was to represent “a dream of hope, progress and freedom”.

Nearby, is a another tribute to freedom, Hofoi House, where Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signed the treaty in 1986 that ended the Cold War.

The Harpa, Reykjavik’s Concert Hall is also situated on the bay. It is a massive glass structure that reflects life around it. It’s lit up at night in a rainbow of colours. (Electricity and hot water are very cheap commodities here.)

Our last port of call was the Tjornin, or ‘pond’ as Lena called it – maybe meaning it as ‘lake’. We walked through City Hall, passing some statues of ladies who featured strongly in Iceland’s history.

The Unknown Bureaucrat

Free to roam for the afternoon, we feasted on FRESH fish and chips (delicious) visited the Flea Market and finished up in FlyOver Iceland Experience – a fantastic experience: a digital story about trolls and the geological history of Iceland before the wildest simulated ride over the stunning Icelandic landscape – I could certainly repeat it, keeping eyes open more often, second time around!!!

DAY 3

Geysir Hot Springs – the original Geysir which gave the name to all hot springs around the world, is now inactive but is well represented by a newer blow hole, Strokkur, which treats visitors to an eruption  every 7 minutes or so. We were treated to three quick eruptions (“wow” factor especially after some travelling companions’ criticisms). We almost missed Littl Geysir. a slushy, bubbling mud pool by the path.

Litli Geysir

Gullfoss Waterfall- this water fall is supposed to be spectacular at any time of the year but especially during the Spring melt. And it certainly was. A Dam had been planned for this river but a feisty lady, Sigridur Tómasdottir, campaigned very successfully to prevent it.

Gullfoss Falls

Last stop of the day was in Pingvellir National Park. If we’d been here a week earlier some of the roads would have been closed.

DAY 4

We were left to our own devices today. Some of the group took bus tours but we decided to stroll around the city. We visited the amazing Settlement Exhibition which comprised of the in-situ remains of a large Viking-age longhouse – I’m still in mourning for Wood Quay.

We found an amazing crafty shop and watched the proprietor needle felting.

We did a return visit to the Hallgrimskirkja. We aborted the plan to climb to the tower in favour of listening to the organist rehearsing for a concert. Such a treat.

Our trip to see the Northern Lights had been deferred till the last night. However, despite hours watching the northern sky, the clouds never cleared. I guess that means I’ll have to take another trip towards the Arctic circle or else just look at the Tromso photos!

After 2 hours sleep, we hit to the airport for the homeward journey.